My husband Chris is a football freak. And by football I mean the game you play with your feet, the one Americans call soccer. So he calls me today to tell me about the eye-rolling saga of Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland, who called in sick to work–in his case, on the Republic of Ireland squad–with the plausible-sounding excuse that his dear grandma had passed on. When team officials called his family to express their condolences, the fib began to unravel. Here’s the whole tale, as explained by Ireland in a statement, which in fact does involve a tragedy.
“When the game ended our manager, Stephen Staunton, took me outside the dressing room into the corridor, along with the Ireland team doctor. He told me that they had taken a call from my girlfriend, Jessica, and she said my grandmother had died. I was deeply shocked because I believed it was my maternal grandmother, who had brought me up from when I was five. The manager went back into the dressing room to get my phone and when I got it I immediately rang my girlfriend to get more details.
“My girlfriend was distraught and explained that she had just suffered a miscarriage. Jessica said she was very lonely and wanted me to come home. She said she thought they might let me come home quicker if they thought my grandmother had died.”
Here’s where Ireland messed up: instead of correcting the lie, which his understandably distraught girlfriend had made, he thought it wise to perpetuate it.
“When I finished the call I told the manager and doctor that my grandmother had died and, because we were very close, I wanted to go home immediately. The manager said that was no problem and he would get the FAI to sort it out.
“The FAI hired a private jet to get me home and I flew out of Bratislava the following morning. Before I left I told the FAI media officer that the name of my grandmother was Patricia Tallon. Early on Monday morning I got a phone call from Stephen Staunton telling me that the FAI had discovered my grandmother in Cork was not dead.
“He wanted to know what was going on and I told him that there had been a mistake and it had been my father’s mother. I told him her name was Brenda Kitchener, that she lived in London.”
Problem: Brenda Kitchener wasn’t dead, either. Ireland continues:
“Jessica and I were still very upset over the miscarriage so we flew home to Ireland for a few days.
“On Thursday, I got a phone call from Manchester City stating that the FAI had discovered that my grandmother, Brenda Kitchener, was also alive. I decided at that stage that I must tell truth and admit I had told lies.
“I realise now that it was a massive mistake on my part to tell the FAI and Manchester City that my grandmothers had died and I deeply regret it.”
Now, only a thick-headed young man would think that his girlfriend’s miscarriage wasn’t a legitimate-enough reason to call in sick to work. But his deep and evident embarrassment, not to mention that of his family, likely ensures he won’t make a similar mistake again.
But stupid excuses aren’t exclusive to young Irish footballers. Following are some tongue-in-cheek suggestions by the editors of CareerBuilder.com and Second City Communications, authors of a new book called CUBE MONKEYS: A Handbook for Surviving the Office Jungle. You’d only use them if you’ve got a football for a brain. (Got any of your own–either excuses you’ve made or heard? Add ‘em on in the comments.)
Top Excuses for Calling in Sick
1. “I have a stomach thing. I think I ate some bad chicken. Or else it was the wine. Or the beer. Or the Scotch. Or the Ouzo. Or the cough syrup. But I think it was the chicken.”
2. “I think I have a bug in my system. I mean a real bug. You see, I yawned when I rode my motorcycle over the weekend.”
3. “I have disco fever. I just can’t stop dancing.”
4. “I’ve got a ringing in my ears, so I can’t hear what you’re saying. If it’s okay if I take off sick, just let me know. Wait, I can’t hear you. I know, if it’s okay if I take off just don’t say anything. Did you say anything? I’m just going to hang up. Is that okay? If it is–”
5. “I have a cold beer in my hand. Psych!”
6. “I have a computer virus. Did I ever mention I was bionic?”
7. “I’ve got one of those 24-hour things. What’s it called–oh yeah, a day off.”
8. “I have a sudden case of Attention Deficit Disorder. So I won’t be able to–look, a bird–I like chocolate–oh, my show is on. Bye!”
9. “I took an overdose of placebos and I feel–well, I don’t know how I’m feeling!”
10. “I broke my leg. But I think it will be okay by tomorrow.”